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IN THE OUTER COURT.
The Offering of Service.
first Part has been named the Outer Court, because we see a certain correspondence between the furniture of the court and the parts of the Eucharistic office. First, there was the great Laver, “placed in the most convenient position for the ministering priests, who were always to wash at it their hands and feet before serving at the altar, lest they should die ;" and corresponding to this we have our “ Collect for Purity," in which we ask for the cleansing operation of the Holy Ghost, that we may worthily magnify GOD's Holy Name. But the Laver, magnificent as it was, was quite subordinate to the great Altar, which seemed to dominate the whole court; so the first prayers look on to the first Offering, that of our minds to the study of God's revealed Truth, that of our bodies to the work of His Church, and that of our spirits to the ministry of intercession and thanksgiving.
I. THE APPROACH. (The Lord's Prayer and Collect for Purity.)
The LORD'S Prayer is not only an act of fellowship with Him who gave it, but it outlines the
whole service in which we are to engage. Devotion to GOD's Name and to His Kingdom which expresses that Name on earth; self-consecration to His will, through the Food which He gives; forgiveness for the past and help for the future—are the chief elements in the Eucharistic Service. The Collect for Purity puts these thoughts into one definite petition, which sets forth the object of the service in an unmistakable way. We ask that by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost "we may worthily magnify GOD'S Holy Name." The exaltation of GOD'S Name is thus put in the forefront as the purpose of our devotions. That Name is written most plainly in the Cross, and we lift it on high when we set forth before the Father the Passion of the Son. That we may do this worthily, we rely on the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. He alone it is who is able to cleanse our thoughts from worldly imaginations, and concentrate them upon the Passion of our LORD with perfect love and devotion.
II. THE OFFERING OF SERVICE. (Decalogue-Prayer for Church Militant.)
(a) The Call. (The Decalogue.)—The preparation over, we now approach to make our first offering; but on the threshold we are shown the revelation of what that offering ought to be. In the Ten Commandments we see the ideal of perfect
service, and hear our LORD bidding us become perfect even as our "Father in Heaven is perfect." The Law was perfectly fulfilled for us in Him, and He has been rightly called “the Incarnation of the Law." These Ten Words express to us, step by step, the Master's Life. In them we have an example that we should follow His steps.1
(b) The Appeal. (The Kyrie and Collects.)But as we gaze on this Ideal of Humanity and realize our own unlikeness, we cry for pity. Feature by feature we see the Divine image in which we were made, marred and spoiled. We recognize, too, how slow our wills are to appreciate its beauty. 'The cry goes up, "Have mercy." It has but one aim, to love the ideal more and more, and to make it its own. 66 Incline our hearts to keep this law. Write all these Thy laws in our hearts." It is not, however, content with this general petition; it collects its thoughts together in one definite aim, suggested by the season in which its devotions are being uttered, and throws itself upon the compassion of the LORD, and there it stays. The Church here comes forth to comfort and stimulate the soul in ancient healthful words of Apostles and Prophets. It prepares it for the first coming of the LORD. It enlarges its capacity by its moving expressions. (c) The Answer. (The Gospel.)—The attitude of
11 S. Peter ii. 21.
supplication is now changed. The Church stands to receive the cleansing words of the Lord. But before the reception, she acknowledges the goodness of her LORD by a burst of praise. "Glory be
to Thee, O LORD," we cry, in anticipation of His refreshing Word. This reading of the Gospel has always been attended with the greatest reverence. As an old English writer says, 'We hearken to it with like reverence, receive it with like good, and retain it with like gratitude, as if Jesus Himself was sacramentally and visibly present. For thus the Greek Liturgy orders, and the ancients used to say before the Gospel, 'Glory be to Thee, O LORD,' and afterwards, Thanks be to GOD for His Holy Gospel,' 'tanquam Christo præsenti," as if Christ was then before their eyes." So the great Origen," says Bossuet in his panegyric of St. Paul, “did not fear to tell us that the word of the Gospel is like the Body of our LORD, the food of our souls." In this way the LORD answers our sore need, and through the comforting inspiration of His Word we are enabled to go forward and make our first offering.
(d) The Offering of Service. (The Creed, Offertory, Prayer for Church Militant.)-This is our first act of praise and thanksgiving. We make it here that we may make it again more fully when we are
1 "A Companion to the Temple," III. 57, 58.